에큐메니칼

캐나다우체국, 캐나다개신교의 75주년 기념우표 발행 거부

작성자
기사연
작성일
2000-03-31 00:22
조회
703
No stamp of approval from Canada's Post for church anniversary
ENI-00-0121

By Ferdy Baglo
Vancouver, 29 March (ENI)--Canada's biggest Protestant church is
preparing to celebrate its 75th anniversary, a major event in the
life of the church - but the Canadian post office has turned down
the church's request for a commemorative stamp to be issued to
honour the event.

The 3-million member United Church of Canada was established in
1925 by a merger of Canada's Congregational, Methodist and
Presbyterian denominations. The founding of the United Church was
also the world's first union of churches from different
ecclesiological backgrounds.

Peter Wyatt, a UCC pastor and staff person assisting the
church's 75th anniversary committee, told ENI that he was shocked
and disappointed that such a significant event in the history of
ecumenism was being ignored by Canada's post office.

It was ironic, Wyatt said, that the post office had already
approved for this year a stamp to honour the quinquennial
(five-yearly) international meeting of Seventh Day Adventists in
Toronto in early July.

"We don't understand why [there will be no stamp for the UCC
anniversary]," Wyatt told ENI. "We don't object to the Adventists
getting a stamp - that is great for them - we just can't figure
out why we are not.

"The object of this exercise was to figure out how the
celebration, which is otherwise internal to the church and its
congregations, could actually have a modest impact on the society
at large. We do know that there are lots of people who are not
church people or are not adherents or members of the UCC who
nonetheless celebrate what the UCC has meant for Canadian
culture, and that we continue to appear in literature and
continue to be newsworthy to the secular press.

"The 75th anniversary committee envisioned thousands of church
members and adherents celebrating the formation of the United
Church by purchasing and using an anniversary stamp," Wyatt
said.

Canada Post is issuing stamps this year for the 100th
anniversary of the federal department of labour, for a gathering
of tall ships in Halifax, and for the achievements of a prominent
engineer, as well as stamps featuring unique rural mailboxes.

The UCC committee's hopes had been raised and dashed again and
again, Wyatt said. "We had our request in about 18 months before
the stamp advisory committee met in December of 1999. We were
turned down. I finally got through by phone to the chair of the
[federal government's] Stamp Advisory Committee [Andre Ouellet].
I had the feeling that neither he nor the current members of the
committee had a good feel for the significance and history of the
United Church as an ecumenical breakthrough and as a uniquely
Canadian institution. So [Oeullet] invited me to send in some
supporting information. I sent a three-and-a-half page letter.
After that we heard that we were definitely going to be
considered afresh.

"One of the people responsible for developing the designs
actually paid a flying visit to the offices here, spoke to one of
our graphics people and asked that our graphics department submit
a design, which we did," Wyatt said. "It was that design that
seems to have been turned down. We met all of the criteria that
this guy said would be significant to philatelists and others.

"We are flabbergasted," Wyatt said.

The final excuse from Canada Post was that there was no time to
design a stamp.

In a UCC news statement, Wyatt added that his response to the
treatment accorded the UCC might best be explained by a photo he
has in his files of Canada's prime minister Jean Chretien
unveiling a stamp to commemorate 100 years of the Sikh religion
in Canada. "The United Church has been a pioneer in inter-faith
education and dialogue, and we applaud the honouring of the Sikh
religion in Canada," said Wyatt. However, "why, in comparison,
has a home-grown institution been treated so shabbily?

"It would be overly dramatic to compare this decision with the
bureaucratic mishandling of the Swissair memorial service at
Peggy's Cove" off Canada's Atlantic coast in September 1998, said
Wyatt, but he believed the situations were similar. (At the
memorial service for the 229 people who died in the Swissair
crash off the coast of Nova Scotia, speakers were allegedly told
by Canadian government staff not to mention Jesus Christ in their
comments and prayers. A UCC minister and Catholic priest were
also reportedly told not to read from the New Testament. Other
faiths were not given any restrictive guidelines. Many Canadian
Christians were appalled.)

"It is cut from the same cloth," Wyatt said, "since it tends to
marginalise the place of an historic Christian communion in the
cultural life of the nation."